This Week’s Arrow: “Heir to the Demon”

MV5BMTYzNDYxMTkzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODUzMjMxMDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_OK, so there was a LOT going on in this episode.  Crazy fight scenes, but mostly people saying real stuff – a lot of which was hard to hear because it was partly true, and also hard to hear, because it was partly untrue (or unfair).

For a full recap, you guys really should hop over to io9 which comes complete with a crying guide.  Seriously, I had no idea that I could get so emotionally worked up over an episode which not once but frequently involves the phrase “Tibetan Pit Viper Venom”.

So now that you are all back from reading the full-length io9 recap that I am not recapping, let’s talk about four big scenes SPOILERS DUH!  In these scenes, we see why a show that is so very fun and amazingly ridiculous (Tibetan Pit Viper!) is also emotionally engaging – the characters have layers.  They have actual motivations that make sense given their circumstances, even when their circumstances are “fell in love with the daughter of an assassin who is also an assassin and a very good one at that”.  They make mistakes and achieve triumphs that fit the complicated, flawed people that they are – and they are often right and wrong at the same time.  So here goes:

1.  Felicity tells Ollie Moira’s big secret.

Is it any of Felicity’s business who Thea’s father is?  Nope.  Should Felicity expose Moira’s secret to Ollie?  Not on the basis of paternity alone – it’s nobody’s business but Moira’s and Thea’s.  But here’s where things suddenly become Ollie’s business – Ollie is running the family company and publicly supporting his mother’s campaign for Mayor (I’m still not over how bizarre it is that Moira is running for Mayor).  Moira is a corrupt politician.  Bribing someone with large amounts of money in secret is corrupt.  Moira has a history of secret corruption.  So on the face of it, Felicity is so over the line.  But in terms of the fact that Moira could be drag  the company Felicity works for and everyone Felicity cares about into a pit of illegal corrupt activity – Felicity is absolutely right to tell Ollie.  Hell yeah.

2.  Ollie is furious with Moira.

So Moira had an affair (that she admitted to) ages ago and had a daughter with a psycho guy (that she hadn’t admitted to but was smart to keep secret given how abysmal a parent psycho guy was to his son).  Ollie’s rage that his mother lied is both totally off the scale considering what she actually did and breathtakingly hypocritical.  Really Ollie?  You’re going to be angry at someone about lying?  You, who refuse to tell your mom or Thea about your crime fighting life?  Jesus, guy.

I think that Ollie’s anger with his Mom has nothing to do with the affair (he took it pretty well when he heard about it earlier this season).  It has to do with all of last season, which basically consisted of Ollie defending his mom while with every episode her complicity in crimes against him, his father, and his city grew more and more obvious.  Ollie is right that Moira doesn’t lie to protect Thea – she lies because it what she does.  In a series about how people learn to survive, Moira has learned to survive by lying all the time, to everyone.  And Ollie doesn’t want to get sucked back into a whole other season/lifetime of trying to cover up his mom’s lies.

Is Ollie’s outrage fair, given that Ollie is scarcely forthright and forthcoming?  Nope.  He survives by lying, too.  Is his anger in character, especially given what his mom’s duplicity has already put him through?  Yup.

Speaking of lying, I’m rooting for Thea to finally find out that basically no one treats her as a person.  Everyone lies to her constantly because they think she’s a fragile decorative item, and I hope she responds by becoming a supervillian,  and I hope she kicks everyone ass.

3.  Laurel is furious with Sara.

This is another case of someone being both unfair and yet completely in character and at least somewhat justified.  Sara was the family flake.  Then she did a really bad thing (betrayed Laurel by cheating with Ollie).  She then let her family believe she was dead for years.  Sara has paid a disproportionate price – but Laurel doesn’t know that.  What Laurel does know is that when Sara left her parents stopped parenting.  Laurel’s mom left and her dad became an alcoholic.  We never seen alcoholic Quentin, so we think of him as dad of the year.  But anyone who’s lived with an alcoholic parent knows that practicing alcoholics are not parents, they are big, heavy, puking babies.  And who took care of everything and cleaned up all that barf while also saving the downtrodden of Starling City from injustice?  Laurel.

Now here comes Sara, and she seems to have it all together (she doesn’t but Laurel can’t see that).  What Laurel sees is that suddenly she, Laurel is the screw-up, and the person who actually screwed everything upon the first place is being hailed as the prodigal daughter and trying to fix Laurel up.  If I were Laurel, I’d be pissed, too.

But alas, although Laurel has a point, Laurel is also wrong, because this show is about how people survive, and Laurel chose to survive by numbing her pain with alcohol and drugs.  That was her choice (her Dad made the same choice, but eventually chose to work a program of sobriety).  Laurel blames Sara for her current state, but Laurel is the one who chose the bottle and who has chosen to refuse all offers of help.  Sara, Quentin, and Ollie have all taken some degree of responsibility for their past destructive and self-destructive choices but Laurel has not.

4. Ollie and Sara have sex.

I know all you Felicity/Ollie shippers are freaking out, but I think Ollie sees sex as a recreational activity and I think Sara does too.   They have a real bond, they care about each other, but I see this as more of a Friends With Benefits situation.  Ollie has told Felicity that he can’t have a romantic relationship given his crazy life – hence the sex with Isobel (I miss Isobel!)  We’ll see where this goes, but my money is on mutual affection, not true love.

Tragically, there’s no Arrow for two weeks because of the Olympics.  If you haven’t been watching the shown here’s a great essay by Jennifer Crusie about why it works so well.  Read it and enjoy, and we’ll see you in two weeks!

Today’s Post brought to You By the Cold and Flu Season

out sickThis month’s list of upcoming releases of sci fi and fantasy romance has been stolen by the cold and flu season.  Our family has been stricken by a cold that has so thoroughly sapped our will to live that we are subsisting entirely on stale crackers.  In lieu of actual writing I present you with the following time waster extraordinaire, courtesy of Wikipeda:

LIST OF FICTIONAL DISEASES

Yes, my sick friends, Wikipedia has you covered.  Am I stricken by Cooties?  Or Diseasemaker’s Croup?  Could it be Kyrtos Virus, or possibly Kellis-Amberlee?  Maybe it’s Bowden’s Malady.  I’m almost positive it isn’t Cutie Pox.

Whatever it is, don’t come over.  You’ll regret it.

And if that’s not enough for you, The Mary Sue has a list of the 10 best/worst fictional diseases.  And if you suspect your disease is caused by being poisoned, then Wikipedia has a list of fictional toxins.  Some of them even have cures.  If anyone comes across the tears of a phoenix, let me know, OK?

Author Interview: Jonathan Del Arroz

Flying-Sparks-coverToday we welcome author Jon Del Arroz for a guest interview.  Jon is the author of the webcomic Flying Sparks.  We had a few questions for Jon:

Tell us about your web comic, Flying Sparks!

Flying Sparks as advertised is “the story of a hero and villain in love.”

It started with an idea of “let’s do a comic that really centers around a villain, one that shows his motivations and perspective,” because that would be pretty fresh in terms of material. Well, then I wrote Meta-Girl, since every good villain needs a nemesis, and I liked her so much I couldn’t just do that. The comic actually has become a little more about her, though I try to keep the perspectives and storylines as close to 50/50 between her and Johnny as best I can.

Can you explain a little about your business model?  When creators put their comics online for free, how do they make money?  

Online comics don’t make much money, that’s the sad fact. I do have print versions of the comic that I sell at conventions or whatnot that help earn a little bit of the cost back, but it’s mostly about exposure and audience building, which seems to be working thus far. I hope that enough of an audience sees this as a good work that as I delve into other projects (while keeping flying sparks going!).

Will we ever see a paper edition of Flying Sparks?

Already exists! I just haven’t done much work into putting up an online store on the site. Anyone who’s interested can contact me via the Flying Sparks facebook or my email on the site and I’ll happily sell it to you!

Do you have an idea of how FS will end?

Yup, have known the ending from the start of issue 1. It keeps getting pushed out for how many issues it’ll take to get there though, as the characters take over where the story wants to go. I think I was originally planning 6-8 issues, and now it’s looking like it’ll probably be closer to 18.

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Tell us a little about the romance aspect of the comic.  How did you decide to do something romance-centric?  Do you think your main couple is meant to be together?  Do you picture a happy ending for them? 

I thought it was fun is how it came about! Like I mentioned above, it started as a “let’s do a villain-centric” comic, but then I started to think about the absurdity of secret identities as a trope in comics, and the ability or inability to keep those secret identities from good friends, lovers, etc. The next natural progression is to mix the two worlds for conflict purposes. I find my work tends to veer toward romance as well, so it was very natural.

It also came out of a reaction to the Spider-Man “One More Day” and “Brand New Day” arc, as well as the New 52 in DC, where there seems to be a fear of having characters in a stable relationship or really developing characters’ relationships in a realistic manner. The editorials of both companies view marriages of Lois Lane and Superman and Spider-Man and Mary Jane as “mistakes” and cite that “interesting stories can’t be told in those environments.” Which I think is dead wrong! Now Meta-Girl and Johnny aren’t married, and there’s turmoil between them, but I skipped over the “interesting story” part of the pursuit and just dropped the storyline mid-relationship as it grows stronger. I think as a story it’s a fun read even as is, and shows that relationship based stories can work in the comic medium.

Are they meant to be together? 

Read on and you’ll find out!

What keeps the main couple together and what drives them apart?

Their passion for each other keeps them together, and they’re both very intelligent and interesting people. One of the main themes is secrets keep them apart.  We’ll see how that progresses as those secrets break down!

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What writers and artists most influence you?

Writing wise:

1.Anne McCaffrey at #1. I think a lot of my decisions to write to begin with were because of her, and she’s definitely a huge inspiration on the level of “I can do sci-fi concepts yet still pursue a romantic storyline and be successful.”

2.Todd McCaffrey – Cuz he’s been so kind to me and kept pushing me. He’s got some really great concepts in his own right. I highly recommend his solo novel “City of Angels”.

3.J. Michael Straczysnki – Developing long term storylines and comic book writing was definitely shaped by him.

4.Lois McMaster Bujold – A pure study in voice, character, and relationships.

5.Brian Michael Bendis – A great modern comic writer. I try to build those character banter moments similar to his a lot of the time.

6.Erik Larsen – Pacing is everything, and Erik’s Savage Dragon is a beautiful example of keeping a long term storyline going while having self-contained issues.

7.Bryan Q. Miller – If I wasn’t reading his Batgirl, Flying Sparks probably wouldn’t exist. Beautiful run.

8.Steve Miller and Sharon Lee- I just discovered this duo recently, but they do the science fiction/romance tandem better than anyone.  Beautiful writing all around from the character work to the world building.

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Artists:

1.Jethro Morales, the Flying Sparks artist. He’s so amazing. I just want him to draw comics for my writing for the rest of my life and beyond!

2.Chris Samnee – Beautiful work on Daredevil and before that on The Mighty Thor. The art is so good and expressive but maintains a classic comic feel.

3.Erik Larsen – Just like above. Panel pacing is equally important to story pacing!

4.Dustin Nguyen – Batgirl’s artist on Mr. Miller’s run. It’s astounding.

What else are you working on currently?

Always working on Flying Sparks since it’s an ongoing story.  Other than that I’m in the 2nd draft of a romantic space opera novel which I think will definitely appeal to Flying Sparks readers, since it carries similar themes and features two unlikely lovers as protagonists. Also just finished up a draft of a YA Steampunk about a girl who inherits an airship. On the comic front, I’ve started a comic about a vigilante team called Pistol Whipped, we’ll see how that progresses.  Finally, last year I came out with a short story, “The Romance Chip” in the anthology Irony of Survival from Zharmae Press, which you can find on Amazon or B&N.  http://www.amazon.com/Irony-Survival-Zharmae-Anthology-Kavan-ebook/dp/B00EY3OAN2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390240669&sr=8-1&keywords=irony+of+survival

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